A Seattle arsonist who is serving a lengthy prison sentence after four firefighters were killed in a blaze he set, will continue paying for his crimes after he leaves prison, according to a decision by the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington.
The man is serving a 35-year prison sentence, but upon his release, he will be required to pay nearly $3 million in restitution and legal costs related to the 1995 fire at his warehouse, as well as costs associated with extraditing him from Brazil, where he fled after the fire. The fire was set at the warehouse in the Chinatown International District owned by the man's wealthy parents. According to prosecutors, he hoped to collect insurance on his parent's property.
A person is guilty of arson in the first degree if he or she knowingly and maliciously:
- Causes a fire or explosion which is manifestly dangerous to any human life, including firefighters; or
- Causes a fire or explosion which damages a dwelling; or
- Causes a fire or explosion in any building in which there shall be at the time a human being who is not a participant in the crime; or
- Causes a fire or explosion on property valued at $10,000 or more with intent to collect insurance proceeds.
A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when he or she recklessly causes the death of another person. Both first degree arson and manslaughter are Class A felonies, punishable by up to life in prison, or a $50,000 fine, or both.
Even though the man pleaded guilty to four counts of manslaughter in 1998, he will be eligible for parole late next year.
Last August, he filed a motion in superior court, seeking to eliminate his legal financial obligations related to the fire he started. The man claimed the judge who sentenced him in 1998, never considered his inability to pay restitution. However, because he filed the motion more than a decade after the one-year deadline challenging the requirement of restitution, the man's motion was denied. He filed a similar motion in 2013 which also was denied. The man has already begun making payments, but in nearly two decades has paid only about $3,600 of the nearly $3 million owed.
This is not the first failed scheme the arsonist hatched while behind bars to get out of his obligations. In 2013, the man and an accomplice outside of prison organized an elaborate plan to commit identity theft of at least 20 witnesses in the original criminal case against him, including firefighters, police officers and others. The man anticipated accruing an illegal nest egg of $20 million he could live on once he was released from prison.
Despite the circumstances, everyone charged with a crime is entitled to an expert defense. If you or a loved one has been arrested in Washington state, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.